Okay, so I really do have to come completely clean at some point about why I neglected this blog for several weeks. I was consumed with lust for a reality TV show contestant. To be exact, this man.
I didn’t actually start off liking him much. I’m not keen on the Showcase swing dancing he specializes in – basically, lots of choreographed lifts and tricks – so I wasn’t particularly impressed when I saw him dance one of his championship routines during his audition for the show. Plus, how do you take someone seriously whose actual, official name is “Benjiman”?
So when he started off the competitive rounds by being paired with gorgeous curvy hip-hop/jazz diva Donyelle for a booty-pumping Shane Sparks hip-hop routine, I was all ready for him to suck, but he totally didn’t. This routine set the stage for what would be one of the most awesomely enjoyable seasons of reality TV I’ve ever watched (and I’ve watched a lot, y’all), and Benji and Donyelle went on from strength to strength with a rather delightful cha-cha, a pretty fierce (in the Tyra Banks sense) pop-jazz and a dreamy Viennese waltz. Benji also did some great dances with other people, like this joyful jazz routine with Natalie and two crazy slick Latin dances with his cousin Heidi, but my favourites are unquestionably the ones he did with Donyelle because I went crazy for their partnership in a way I haven’t since Mulder and Scully. Yes, I’m fully aware this is a bizarre thing for a twenty-six year old to get sucked into, but talk to the hand.
I also started coming across Youtube videos which showcase what I really admire about Benji’s dancing. Jack and Jill routines are almost always my favourite part of a swing dance event because I love being blown away by what good dancers can improvise on the spot, with a randomly assigned partner and music they haven’t heard till they’re standing on the dancefloor and it starts playing. This one’s my favourite because halfway through it becomes obvious that he loves the same superstar dancer who ruled my teenage years. This one’s got lots of nice slinky moves. It’s frankly hard to believe this one isn’t choreographed because they’re so amazingly in sync, but I guess that’s what you get when two swing champions get paired.
So perhaps you’re thinking, this is all very well but I still don’t get why this skinny dorky Mormon swing dancer constitutes her biggest celebrity crush of the past few years?
Perhaps this will help?
Other stuff that works for him is his endearingly goofy personality, and I admire the fact that he walked away at the peak of his dance career to serve a two-year Mormon mission in Mexico, then came back, set up a charity to continue helping their community, and reclaimed his US Open Showcase swing title the same year. Boy has heart, gumption and is ripped.
What’s not to love?